Microsoft announced plans to build a 10,000 data server farm somewhere near Irkutsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia, according to news reports. No budget or timetable was announced at the joint press conference held last Friday by the head of Microsoft’s Russian business unit and a government representative. However, media reports are citing $500 million as a rough budget estimate.
According to a Data Center Knowledge report, the region “was attractive to Microsoft due to its stable power supply,” though the government official conceded that there has never been a data center project of this scope in Russia.
Microsoft has recently announced data center projects in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland; however, the Siberian project initially appears to be smaller than the others (Ireland’s is reportedly around 100,000 servers). As to who is going to man a data center in a region known for its frost-bitten winters, Microsoft was mum on the subject.
As author and blogger Nick Carr points out, if local communities are hoping the new data centers will create significant employment opportunities, “they’ll probably be disappointed. Microsoft has revealed that the Chicago facility, which may be the biggest data center on earth when it’s completed next year, will employ a grand total of between 35 and 50 people,” writes Carr, best known for his 2004 book “Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage”.
One news account noted that Irkutsk “has traditionally been a place of exile in Russia, used by the czars and communists for over 200 years.” Hmmmm. Has anyone heard from ex-Microsoft CIO Stuart Scott lately?